Santa Claus invades Muhammad’s land

via Special Correspondent published on December 19, 2005

A few months back the Russian Archbishop on a visit to Kuwait hailed Kuwait for its religious freedom. The year of 2005 has seen some spectacular changes in the Islam – Christian relationship in Kuwait.  

We have seen major activities in Kuwait in the recent year. Christian and Islamic dialogues have been initiated. Kuwait is an Islamic country that follows its big brother Saudi Arabia on many issues. But after that proclamation many changes have begun happening in this gulf haven. The American influence has been felt over the country ever since the liberation of Kuwait from Saddam’s Iraq. The new generations of Kuwait youth who are educated in these western countries try to ape them out in the streets. Numerous numbers of them also move towards the extreme right and join fundamentalist groups.  

We come across news constantly in the papers about how much freedom the Christians enjoy in Kuwait and about the links of Islam with Christianity. The biggest surprise this time was the popping up of a large number of Christmas trees in most of the shopping malls and also lots of Santa Clauses. We could it call it an American way of fighting fundamentalism in Kuwait using Christianity! But this could also have a adverse effect with the right minded youth and mullahs feeling uncomfortable with this open attack. Definitely the Christians won’t think much of this as they have been doing this in all the countries they go to. Some of the five star hotels in Kuwait also allow alcohol in its premises. Yes, of course the tenants are Americans again. Its common knowledge that there is a large amount of Jews amongst the American troops in Kuwait. Kuwait has a total ban on Jews and even prohibits its nationals and expatriates from going to Israel. 

While this happens there is no talk of the religious persecution faced by the huge number of non-Semitic Hindu expatriates living in Kuwait. The Hindus are not allowed to have temples or any kind of religious functions. Even photos of Gods are not allowed to pass through Kuwait customs. So what religious freedom are the Christian God heads talking about? Though unofficially many religious groups operate in Kuwait doing lot of social work, they continue to do so in total fear. The Embassy of India in Kuwait also stands by silently as they cannot interfere in the local laws of the land. I would have to admit that it is the right thing to do. The expatriate community faces persecution economically and religiously. Ironically even Muslim expatriates who are to expect immense love in the land of Muhammed often go hungry and starving. The worst of these are the Bangladeshi expats. They are made to stay in flats where over ten people share a room. Even the Shia Muslims who are about 30% of the population are looked down upon. Until recently even the Bohra community leader wasn’t allowed to enter Kuwait. The average salary of the domestic worker and those working in the labour camps range from USD 80.00 to USD 100.00. And this also is not paid in full. Recently Kuwait has witnessed protests from many labourers of different community alleging non payment of salaries and deplorable living conditions. The Pilipino maids are often at the receiving end with many cases of murder and rape. Even with clear cut cases such as these the ever pro-active world police, the US, still given Kuwait and its neighbor Saudi and clean chit in cases of Human Rights.  

But to officially proclaim this gulf country offers religious freedom is an insult to the word freedom and all the people who have given their lives against religious oppression and countries like America and the EU stand wrong to endorse it.

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